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Far East Suite

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 11, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Far East Suite by Duke Ellington

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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Tourist Point of View
  2. Bluebird of Delhi (Mynah)
  3. Isfahan
  4. Depk
  5. Mount Harissa
  6. Blue Pepper (Far East of The Blues)
  7. Agra
  8. Amad
  9. Ad Lib on Nippon
  10. Tourist Point of View
  11. Amad
  12. Bluebird of Delhi
  13. Bluebird of Delhi (Mynah)
  14. Isfahan
  15. Depk
  16. Mount Harissa


Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 11, 2011)
  • Rmst ed. edition
  • Original Release Date: October 7, 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA Bluebird/BMG Heritage
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • ASIN: B0000C8AOZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,443 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Zoner on October 4, 2006
Format: Audio CD
As a classically trained clarinetist, I hate jazz clarinet, as a rule. But I have to make an exception in Jimmy Hamilton's case on Bluebird of Delhi. His sound is brilliant, mature and confident, and his technique is outstanding. He gives the clarinet a good name - in 1966 of all times. That piece is a highlight in a disc full of highlights.

Far East Suite is delightful from start to finish. Forty years later a lot of it sounds like spy music - maybe James Bond theme music, or maybe Las Vegas lounge style - but that's not a bad thing! Tourist Point of View is laid back, showcasing Paul Gonsalves' amazing tenor sax, tasteful as always.

The world class sax work from Gonsalves and Johnny Hodges continues throughout, but in my eyes Harry Carney deserves special notice. From personal experience I can say that it's hard to make a bari sax sound good, much less sweet or sexy. But Carney does all the above, particularly in track 7, Agra. It is a concerto for bari sax that might change your mind about what the instrument can do.

But then Agra leads into Amad, which is so rhythmically compelling it's hard to sit still listening to it. It is a sinuous fluid demonstration of the Duke's ideas of a rhythm section composed of every instrument in his band - with a typically assertive piano line. Lawrence Brown's trombone shines.

Ad Lib on Nippon is tour de force, and contains some absolutely top shelf clarinet work at the end, amongst its other charms.

The seven bonus tracks on this disc are noteworthy. I've listened to the two bonus Bluebirds more than the others. While I can agree with the original choice, the other two are still great. I think Hamilton was a little off his game on track 12, but track 13 is technically excellent.
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Format: Audio CD
The previous version 'special mix' sounded preety good to my ears. This one sounds a little better, but you could do with the 'special mix' version. Some alternate takes were not included here, but they put as much as you can in a one CD album. But if you are buying this album for the first time, this is the version to get.
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Format: Audio CD
What is the litmus test of good art? It should hold up well-or very well-over time, and one goes back,again and again, to read, or view, or listen, discovering something new each time.
So it is with The Far East Suite, and for those who are not familiar with Ellington's many Suites, a good starting point.
The band was in excellent form, and the songs are ageless. The Strayhorn/Ellington collaborative art form was at its apex.
Time is given to let the musicians stretch, and Hodges even tosses in some blues honking-but everyone is at the top of their game; Gonsalves, Hamilton, Carney, and the unsung hero of the LP, Rufus Jones, who made it swing like mad with outstanding drumming.
By the way, one can now see versions of "Isfahan" and "Agra" on YouTube,allowing another insight to the players; Hodges, as usual, never showing a hint of emotion, Carney with his circular breathing. Amazing players and amazing songs.Mt Harissa, Amad,Blue Pepper..None got much airtime, if at all, but highlights the depth of composition and colour.
One small piece of trivia. Isfahan, (which is pure poetry, and cannot be improved upon) was written by Strayhorn years before the band ever went to the Far East; it was originally called "Elf."
If you don't yet have this, get it, Should be part of everyone's collection of Ellingtonia.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD does not come with any liner notes or album notes. It doesn't even have a CD serial number and year of issue! I purchased this CD as I needed both the music and the liner notes for my research assignment and I was so disappointed with the missing liner notes. I ended up buying another copy of the CD from amazon.uk which has the liner notes. You need to get the 2003 re-issue, serial number: 82876 55614 2, if you need the original liner notes by Stanley Dance and new liner notes by Stephanie Stein Crease. If you don't need the liner notes, you might as well just get the MP3 download. Do check out the album description of the same title at amazon.ca which indicates, "Packaged in digipak format featuring original cover art & session photographs as well as original & newly commissioned liner notes. Bluebird. 2003." That's the one to get.
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I am in no position to judge Duke Ellington's music, or Far East Suite. I barely have a pinky toe in this master's discography. Anatomy of a Murder and Afro Eurasian Eclipse are what I have started my foray into Duke with in the past year.

When, like me, a lover of rock and free jazz, you get used to instruments sticking out. Mile's wha wha trumpet. Coltrane's sax.
This is why it is a little jarring to work your way into Ellington. Far East Suite is a perfect example.

This subtle and sublime music is based on Ellington's tour of the Far East in the early 1960s, and came out in 1966. These are sublime melodies, with each instrument perfectly balanced with all others in Ellington's band. The music works like soft butterscotch, revealing its flavor gently, from inside its silk surface.

I find the same subtly in the theme of the music, given its name. There are, in fact, many Far Eastern elements throughout this wonderful suite. But they are blended into Ellington's style. He smoothly woos you with each new idea, each invention, like a doctor who you expect to give a needle and then find out he already has. The masters refinement is astounding, and brilliant.

I can't say that I am bowled over. I can't say I am blown out of the water. But that is not what this music is designed for, and if wading into Ellington's massive pool of work is a life long, gentle process, I have an inkling the Duke may have planned it that way.
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